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An Open Letter from Africa to Britain’s Prime Minister Keir Starmer

An Open Letter from Africa to Britain’s Prime Minister Keir Starmer

Prime Minister Keir Starmer can transform Britain's relations with Africa by addressing historical injustices, building equitable partnerships, and reforming outdated policies. This open letter outlines a compelling vision for a future rooted in mutual respect, justice, and shared prosperity.

Dear Prime Minister Keir Starmer,

Congratulations on your new role as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. In your first address as Prime Minister, you called on Britain to rediscover its identity and initiate a broader reset. I therefore call on you to oversee a far-reaching reset with Africa in the following four areas: British military bases in Africa; compensation for African soldiers who fought for Britain in World War II and Mau Mau veterans in Kenya; economic partnerships; and immigration policies.

Addressing the Legacy of British Military Bases

One of the most pressing issues that require immediate attention is the presence of British military bases in Africa, in Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Mali.

The British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) has long been a point of contention. Reports of crimes committed by British soldiers, including rape of local Kenyan women for decades and a 2012 murder of Agnes Wanjiru, a Kenyan woman, have sparked outrage and demands for justice.

We urge you to re-evaluate Britain's military presence on the continent. This reset should include a comprehensive review of all military operations in Africa and a commitment to full transparency and accountability. Britain must work closely with African governments to ensure that justice is served for past crimes and ensure that such incidents do not recur. Britain must compensate all Africans who have been adversely affected by the presence of British military bases in their countries. Indeed, Britain must expeditiously wind down these military bases.

Compensating African Veterans and Their Families

The second area that demands urgent action is the compensation for African soldiers who fought for Britain in World War II plus the recognition and reparation for Mau Mau veterans. African soldiers fought for Britain during the First and Second World Wars, yet their contributions have often been overlooked, and their families have been left without adequate support.

We call on your government to acknowledge this historical debt and provide appropriate compensation to the families of these brave soldiers. This includes financial reparations and initiatives to preserve their legacy through educational programs and memorials. Additionally, the Mau Mau uprising's veterans and their families deserve recognition and reparations for the suffering endured during the fight for Kenya's independence. 

By addressing these historical injustices, Britain can begin to heal the wounds of the past and build a foundation of trust and respect with African nations. This gesture would signal a commitment to acknowledging and rectifying historical wrongs, setting a precedent for future relations.

Building Equitable Economic Partnerships

Economic relations between Britain and Africa have long been skewed in favor of the former, perpetuating a legacy of exploitation and inequality. Under your leadership, Britain has the chance to reset these relations and establish more equitable economic partnerships.

This reset should prioritize fair trade practices, investment in African industries, and support for sustainable development initiatives. Britain must move beyond a model that views Africa merely as a source of raw materials and instead invest in value-added industries that create jobs and foster economic growth within the continent.

Furthermore, Britain should fully support initiatives that enhance intra-African trade, such as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and support African-led development programs. By fostering genuine economic partnerships, Britain can contribute to Africa's economic resilience and growth, benefiting both parties in the long run.

Reforming Immigration Policies

Lastly, Britain's immigration policies toward Africa need a significant overhaul. The current policies often reflect outdated perceptions and contribute to a sense of exclusion and discrimination against African nationals. Your government should pursue more inclusive and fair immigration policies that recognize the contributions of African migrants to British society.

This reset should include streamlined visa processes, fair treatment of African students and professionals, and policies that facilitate family reunification. By creating a more welcoming environment for African nationals, Britain can strengthen cultural and economic ties, promoting a sense of mutual respect and collaboration.

One more thing on this matter of immigration, you promised to stop the Rwanda deportation flights on day 1 of your administration. Keep that promise. For centuries, Africans were forced to leave Africa against their will. We can therefore not allow people to be brought to Africa against their will.

Conclusion

As you seek to redefine Britain's identity and reset its global relations, Africa presents a clear and compelling case for a comprehensive reset in these four key areas. Addressing the legacy of British military bases, compensating African veterans and their families, building equitable economic partnerships, and reforming immigration policies are crucial steps towards fostering a relationship based on mutual respect, justice, and shared prosperity. 

Yours sincerely,

DJ Bwakali

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